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How to Plan a Camping Trip

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or brand new to the world of the great outdoors, working out how to plan the best camping trip before you set off can make all the difference and mean enjoying your experience is much more likely. 

Planning the perfect camping trip with friends or family is easy when you take a step back and go back to basics, from deciding where to go, to what you need to take, here is everything you need to think about before you set off on your great adventure. 

How to Decide Where You Want to go Camping 

When you’re first thinking about going on a camping trip you may be trying to decide between travelling somewhere close by vs venturing further afield. Whether you decide to camp close to home or decide to visit a campsite further away or in a region you’ve always wanted to visit is up to you.  

If you’re a first-time camper, you may feel more comfortable staying closer to home, especially if you have new gear, a new tent or are unfamiliar with camping. No matter where you decide to go on your camping adventure we would always advise you test your important equipment like tents and sleeping bags thoroughly before you travel, to ensure you know how to set them up, take them down and that they provide the adequate warmth and shelter you will need on your trip.

If you’re planning on going off grid, make sure you check the rules in the location you are planning to visit.

To help decide where you want to go, think about what’s important to you and what you want to get out of a camping trip. 

Things to consider include: 

Which activities do you want to do? Canoeing, Cycling, hiking or simply relaxing are some of the most popular activities. Staying by the seaside could offer activities on the water or at the beach, but inland locations could offer great walking and cycling options. Don’t forget your walking boots!

What accommodation do you want? Are you planning on pitching a tent or are you staying in a motor home or static caravan? Do you want to go camping off-grid without power or running water, or would you prefer to stay at a campsite with electricity and more home comforts? You will need to make this decision early on as the list of items you will need to take will vary drastically.

Who’s going? Your camping group size may dictate where you end up staying. If going in a large group you want to make sure you can get a pitch next to friends and family. If you’re taking children camping you may want to check that there is a play park nearby. 

If there is part of the country or a location abroad that you want to visit, camping can offer a great low cost alternative to expensive hotels and B&Bs. Booking into campsites overseas is normally very easy to do online or by calling the campsite directly, however make sure you read up on the rules for wild camping if you are planning on avoiding campsites on your trip.

How to Book a Campsite 

Once you’ve decided all the things that matter to you from a campsite it’s time to start looking for the perfect campsite and then get booking it. 

Some campsites allow you to turn up on the day without a reservation, however, it is strongly advised to book in advance to avoid disappointment. 

Most campsites can either be booked through online booking platforms or have their own websites. You could also ring up individual campsites to make sure you can book a pitch that you want. 

How to Plan Your First Camping Trip 

As a new camper, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the kit you need to get. From blow-up camping beds to camping chairs and camping stoves to sleeping bags there are so many things to remember to take on your trip, take a look at our ultimate camping checklist to make sure you aren’t missing any of the essentials. 

Although you want to make sure you have everything you need, don’t feel pressure to get all new kit. If you have old sleeping bags and waterproof gear, try these out (as long as they are warm enough). You don’t have to buy all new goods to enjoy your experience and you may find that you have a lot of what you need already at home. 

Remember to unpack and inspect anything that you’ve kept in storage for longer than a year, especially tents, sleeping bags, camping beds, stoves, waterproof clothing and walking boots.

The last thing you want is to arrive at a destination to find that your tent has been torn or your sleeping bags eaten by moths while in storage.

Try to plan as much as you can in advance of your first camping trip. Work out different activities to do while you are away and have some backup plans in case the weather is bad. 

How to Plan a Family Camping Trip 

Planning a family camping trip is pretty similar to any other camping trip but there will likely be more items for you to remember to take along. 

If you’re going to be packing for multiple family members, you may find it easier to write packing checklists for each person and pack individually. To make sure you don’t forget anything, take a look at our ultimate camping checklist.

If different family members are packing separately, be sure to check in with each other so nothing is forgotten, but also that nothing is unnecessarily doubled upon. Share out different items on the camping checklist to different people to make sure everyone is contributing. 

How to Plan a Camping Trip With Friends  

Planning a camping trip with friends can sometimes feel like quite a hard task. With lots of different people with different requirements, it can be hard to find the right campsite to fit everyone’s needs. 

Make a shortlist of campsites and get your friends to vote on their favourite one, the one with the most votes is the one you’ll go to. 

When it comes to packing, create a spreadsheet with everything that people need to bring. Everyone will need to bring their own essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, air bed and camping chair. But it may be sensible to create a tab with things that everyone should bring with them and then a separate tab with specific items that you only need one or two of like a camping stove. Either specify who should bring that item or get people to write their names by things that they can commit to bringing. 

How to Decide What Food to Take on a Camping Trip 

Planning your food in advance can make or break your camping trip. There is nothing worse than hungry tired campers who are just longing for a home-cooked meal. 

First thing you want to decide is how you will cook your meals, take a look at our camping stove guide to see the best option for you. 

Separate out your meals and create a meal plan for the time that you’ll be away. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all need to be catered for. 

When planning the meals you’ll be making, think about where you might be eating them. For lunch, prepping something like sandwiches is great for taking out on day trips. 

You want to make meals that aren’t going to spoil quickly, tinned and dried ingredients are great options. If you do have meat or fish, you may want to cook these up at the beginning of your camping trip rather than letting them sit about for a long time. 

Make sure you have a backup plan in case you get bad weather. It’s great to have the intention of getting up at 6 am and cooking a full English for the whole camping party, however, if it’s raining you may prefer to serve up cereal, so take options for all eventualities. 

Remember to take the right utensils to cook and store all the meals that you are planning, there is no point in deciding to cook up a great feast, only to realise you only have one pan to cook in.

There is no pressure when it comes to food on a camping trip, there are no rules that you have to cook everything from scratch so do whatever works best for you. 

How to Plan a Winter Camping Trip

Camping doesn’t have to only be a summer activity, however, it is important to make sure you have appropriate gear if you’re planning on taking a winter camping trip. 

If you’re camping in the winter, pack for the worst-case scenario weatherwise. Even if the weather forecast says it’s going to be mild, make sure you take enough layers, appropriate gear and emergency supplies in case the weather changes. 

It’s not encouraged to go it alone, try to take some friends along with you and make sure you have some contact with people back home too. 

One of the most important things you can do is plan how to keep warm, you want to make sure you take enough layers, including a base layer that traps warm air and acts as a second skin, mid-layer which adds insulation, this could be something like fleece and an outer layer which should be waterproof. 

You also want to make sure you have appropriate socks, hats and gloves to keep your outer extremities warm.

You also want to make sure you have an appropriate sleeping bag to keep you warm at night, you want to look for a sleeping bag that is rated as a season 3 or 4, find out more about which type of sleeping bag you should go for in our [guide]. 

How to Plan a Romantic Camping Trip 

Is there anything more romantic than cosying up by a campfire watching the stars with the one you love? 

When booking a romantic camping trip you want to book the perfect location. You may want to book a campsite that is small, remote or even adults only. 

When deciding on the kit to take for a romantic camping holiday, pack things like two-person sleeping bags and double air mattresses which will bring you closer to the one you love. 

Consider the needs of your partner before booking where to go, do you want more creature comforts to make it a more luxurious experience? If so, you may want to consider booking a glamping site to make it even more special.